Helpful votes received on reviews: 82% (85 of 104)


Top Reviewer Ranking: 837,205 - Total Helpful Votes: 85 of 104
The Secret Life of E. Robert Pendleton by Michael Collins
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is a novel with Dostoyevskian scope, dealing simultaneously with the relation of literature/autobiography to life, the ghastliness of academic ghettoes, serial photographing and killing of children, breakdown of marriages and families, washed-up cops, poverty versus money for old rope in the writing business, plagiarism, etc.

Unfortunately Dostoyevsky didn't write it, and it should have been handed on a plate (with a fat fee) to someone like Philip Roth.

But it is worth reading if only for the contrast between the wonderful plot and the less than wonderful writing.
The word Lax occurred 3 times in as many pages. 'Eerily' occurred about 10 times in the book… Read more
The Dream of the Celt by Mario Vargas Llosa
The Dream of the Celt by Mario Vargas Llosa
13 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Embarrassing reading., 10 Aug 2012
Vargas Llosa is an extremely uneven writer. The War of the End of the World was a marvellous book which took my breath away and had me sobbing uncontrollably.

This book, however, is almost unreadable - especially for an Irishman. Llosa has not done his research, in fact does't even seem to have looked at a map of Ireland. If he had, he would have realised that County Antrim is not "in the heart of Ulster", but a coastal county closer to Scotland than to most of Ireland.

His Casement is a stiffly cardboard character, completely unconvincing. The translation is not only pedestrian, but aimed at a solely American audience. The idea of a sheriff in Pentonville Gaol in… Read more
A Mind of Its Own: A Cultural History of the Penis by David M. Friedman
33 of 43 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not what it seems, 16 Nov 2004
The first page I opened this book at contained an incredible howler. "By...1275, the penis had virtually disappeared from Western art for eight hundred years."
This is completely false, because hundreds of Romanesque churches (in France, Spain and England) have penises, ithyphallic males, megaphallic males and even masturbating males plain to see upon them (see the website [...] to check this out). So this book lacks basic scholarship, for a start.
It also lacks focus, is given to mere anecdote, and has pathetic pictures. Like many penises, it does not live up to its promise. I shall donate my copy to the local library.